At a recent meeting of VIRA (Vancouver Island romance authors) we were invited to tap into our creativity by creating a collage.  So, with scissors, glue stick and magazines in hand I took my place at the table.  Now, I’m not a visual artist in any way.  In public (elementary) school I got A’s in reading and grammar, B’s in arithmetic and a pity C in art.  The only project I ever felt good about was one where we covered our fists with paint and made swirly patterns on a sheet of Bristol board, folded it in half, punched holes on two sides and sewed it up to make a portfolio for our art that year.  I can make swirls with my fists so for once I thought I’d do well in art.  Wrong!  The teacher didn’t like my choice of colours, purple and green.  Whenever I see a purple flower with lovely green leaves I want to shake my fist in the air and say “See!  God put them together.”

But, I digress.

Back to collage making. We were to cut out any images that appealed to us, including words, then stick them onto our backing holus-bolus.  The idea was to be a wild mind, not plotted and planned and edited.

I’m currently working on a project set in nineteenth century British Columbia, so when I looked at my finished work I sought expressions of that time and place.  I had an antique looking map of Vancouver Island and coastal B.C., a woman with a horse, sheep, a feathery hat, china teacups and iced sugar cookies.  I also had “for Queen and Country,” a definite sentiment of patriotism for that era.  The picture at the top left is my “wild mind” collage.

We were then instructed to build a collage with more specific intent. So, I looked for images of prospectors, pioneers, and fledgling towns.  I found horses pasturing beside a river, a picture of lots and lots of purple flowers with green foliage (ha!), some stylized Mounties, a polar bear and blueberries in whipped cream.  The latter two have nothing to do with my story, but I love the polar bear and the whipped cream balanced the picture, in my opinion.  Remember, I’m not a visual artist.  But the prize image came from a colleague at the same table, Peabody’s Photo Parlour.  The heroine in my wip is a lady photographer.  If you look closely, you’ll see a lady photographer in bustled skirt and big had operating a box camera on a tripod as an inset to the larger image of the frontier traveller.  I doubt my “plotted” collage is any better than my wild mind one, but looking at it does help keep me in the story place.

The best thing about the afternoon was sitting with other writers, talking story lines and plot problems and pesky grammar points. When I look at my collages, I see not only pretty pictures, but I remember my friends and am grateful

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